Sunday, 29 May 2016

The Doll Is Listening To - The Flames Of Hell

... her retro technology find of the vinyl kind.

The Old Man is hard at work washing the old 33s that I do find in Truro ... in the record shop in Pannier Market quite rightly called "Music Nostalgia".
I found some culture from Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau singing Schubert but, setting my feet thumping and my own voice howling along, perhaps even more joyful is the find of Swamp Music Vol 1 - Les Flemmes d'Enfer aka Flames of Hell. Being a collection of Cajun - Zydeco music from Louisiana released on a German label around 1989.
You can get a flavour with this video over on YouTube.

Bang those feet on the floor...

Sunday, 22 May 2016

My Retro Photography: Drawing A Veil Over It

Last week I got the strong urge to have an "instant" picture camera again... after seeing one being used on the telly recently.
I used to love my/Mrs D's Polaroid camera and I have had my share of modelling for its pictures, way back in the 1990s. But supplies of Polaroid instant film disappeared alongside Polaroid's final bankruptcy in 2008. I knew that plans had been afoot to resurrect the concept and technology but at that time it didn't include my particular camera model.

And of course I have a digital camera and do like it very much... including the camera in my ancient Nokia phone. (I specialise in out-of-date technology.) Where would this blog be without such a thing? But most of my digital photos remain on my pc or camera, I just never get round to printing them off and I do not think I am alone in this.

And so my little hands did quiver with desire to get themselves wrapped around a new equivalent, analogue instant camera. Perhaps a Lomo'Instant or a Fuji. There is something very special about the one-off, one-time-only magic of the Polaroid snap; not just an instant result, but an object in its own right. I love them. I just had to buy another camera. And that was when The Old Man did stay my hand and got me to check to see if I could now get film for my old Polaroid Image Spectra. And I can.

Impossible Project, the outfit that have spent some years resurrecting what they could of the Polaroid process, cameras and do a film pack for my old camera. Times have changed, as have rules for Health & Safety, etc., so the chemicals are not the same nor the construction of each print module. Now, you only get 8 prints to a pack, they take longer to develop and they are more expensive. I ordered up a pack right away. But very stupidly... not from Impossible themselves. Daft girl.

When the pack arrived the very next day, it was stamped with a 2014 manufacture date. Well past its sell-by-date. Impossible recommends a 12month life for their films. And this is the explanation (I do hope) for my atmospheric results. Such as this image of an old man, looking very pleased, clutching a pot of iris.

Next time I shall buy from Impossible. And fervently hope that the image will develop properly and that any atmospheric veils are under my control. Because otherwise ... it is my beloved 25 year old camera that is in trouble.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Women With Knives Part 2: Lucia di Lammermoor

The Old Man and me sat ourselves down in our local cinema last week for the Royal Opera House broadcast of its new production of Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor".

I'm quite happy to see new interpretations of operas and this production has certainly caused controversy and do give a melodramatic deal of blood and savagery albeit perhaps not in the form anticipated. Director Katie Mitchell relocates it from Donizetti's Scotland of the 1700s to the mid-1800s by way of bringing the action closer to Donizetti's own era (she says in an interview on the ROH site) and because she views Lucia not as a young "victim" but as a mature, cultured woman... and the mid-1800s was a period filled with "brilliant [unmarried] women artists".
OK. But perhaps "pax" to earlier feminists such as Mary Wollstonecroft (1757-1797). Not to forget Wollstonecroft's daughter, Mary Shelley, who happened to beat the boys (Byron and husband Percy) at late-night horror stories by creating Frankenstein in 1816 and succeeded in publishing it, albeit anonymously, the year before Sir Walter Scott's own publication of his original "Bride of Lammermoor".

Mitchell's production has a split stage to enable a continuous line of action for Lucia. We see her dressing, reading letters, waking up in the morning, etc, regardless of whether she is part of the musical scenario, which takes place on the other half of the stage. Cinema-goers watching the live broadcast version with its close-ups and different points of view may not have been exposed to the full effect of this device. I do wonder if it proved distracting for the theatre audience, certainly in the case of the silent masque murder-scene which traditionally takes place off-stage. And what also troubled me about this scene was that it seemed to depart so much from the traditional view of poor innocent Lucia that I couldn't really make it lie down with the notion that she then proceeds to go mad... tout suite. Though I did enjoy the addition of Donizetti's originally scored glass harp accompaniment to Lucia's hallucinatory insanity. Certainly Diana Damrau as Lucia earns her keep and sings pretty lovely as well and we were both impressed by the acting and singing of Charles Castronova as Edgardo.

I enjoyed my night out at the opera thoroughly. In retrospect the production is device-heavy and overthought in its details... which don't always hang together. (But then Donizetti's own scenario doesn't leave much room to "explain" the sudden descent of madness onto poor Lucia's head). But I enjoyed the performances and if the director enabled some of these, then so be it. Ultimately, me and The Old Man were still arguing and discussing the whole thing a couple of days later which many would say was a mark of a good, meaty show. Or is it? Dunno ... but I'm glad I went.